While much of the world’s media focuses, understandably, on the contest to form the next government, a power struggle of a different kind has come to a head between the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil.
In what many regard as a milestone for Kurdish independence, the first tanker of Kurdish crude oil sailed for Europe at the end of last week from the Turkish port of Ceyhan, having been transported there along a new pipeline.
Meanwhile, Baghdad has filed for arbitration against Turkey with the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, claiming that, by facilitating the export of crude oil from Kurdistan without the authorization from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Turkey has breached its obligations under the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline Agreement.
But rejecting the claims, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told the Kurdish parliament yesterday “we will never give up control of our own oil.”
The extent to which this battle influences the negotiations to form the next government remains to be seen, but for many the control of oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan remains the real power struggle in the country.